About Chris Sievey
A lot of effort went into keeping the identity of who was inside Frank’s head a secret…but since Chris Sievey’s death in 2010, and subsequent release of the documentary ‘Being Frank,’ the cat is now well and truly out of the bag.
Chris was active as a musician and artist from his early teens, experimenting and recording his music from as early as 1971. He was prolific throughout the 70s and early 80s, constantly churning out releases under various monikers: Chris Sievey and the Pajama Band, Hard Sharks, The Bees Knees and most notably…The Freshies.
Chris had a strong pre-punk DIY ethic, setting up his own label Razz Records in 1974 to produce and distribute his own output.
“Freshies doomed TV campaign”
(transcribed from a newspaper interview with Chris Sievey, dated July 1978)
August 20th-27th. Make a note of it in your diary. Circle it in red ink on the calendar. And… prepare. For August 20th sees the starts of one of the most extensive television campaigns ever launched. Yes, it’s—Freshies for TV Week!
“The idea of the campaign,” explains chief Freshie Chris Sievey, “is to see how many TV shows we can get on in one week. The band are all working hard, but we have had no successes yet from the producers of shows like ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Columbo’ or ‘Police 5.’ We did however get a reply from Chris Tookey of ‘Revolver’ so things could be looking up.
“The campaign,” he adds, is really to be on every TV show that week, but it is a campaign that will obviously fail.”
Still, failure has never dampened Chris’s spirits in the past. After collecting “millions of rejection slips” from just about every record company going, Chris decided that “if you want a thing doing, do it yourself” and formed his own label, Razz Records, which is run from an estate in Manchester.
So far the group has produced one EP at a cost of £300, which sold all 500 copies that were pressed, covering the original outlay “plus a bit extra”.
The group’s latest project is an album, entitled “All Sleep Secrets”, at the moment available only on cassette because, according to Chris, it’s cheaper to do small runs on tape.
“We sold the EP at selected shops,” says Chris, “but while we were selling it at 50p or 60p at gigs, they were charging anything up to £1.50, which I think is rather a lot. So we’ll probably just be selling the album at gigs and by post.”
If you want to get the album by post, all you have to do is send £1.50 to Razz Headquarters, at 21 Yattendon Avenue, Brooklands Estate, Manchester K23 9EB, and Chris will rush one to you.
Of course, there is the possibility that, before you splash out your hard-earned cash, you might like to know just what kind of music the Freshies play—something you won’t already know unless you live in the Manchester area, where the group currently play about two gigs a week.
Over to Mr Sievey again: “Where our audience lies, we’re not sure, people think we’re Jazz (?), Punk (?), Pop (?), Disco (?), Heavy (?), Wet (?), and a long list of descriptions beyond belief. We’ve been booed and catcalled and we’ve done encores to scenes of hysteria. It’s odd, we don’t understand it, but we all have a great laugh, and we keep on doing it.”
Which just about sums it up, really. Chris’ current plans are to make the movie (8 millimetre film lasting 45 minutes) of the album, and to construct “a giant banana island for a stage set which we will use next year with the film.”
So if EMI came along tomorrow and offered the Freshies a contract, would they accept?
There’s a pause as Chris mentally scratches a chin at the other end of the phone line.
“I dunno, it depends. We would like a licensing deal, where we just hand over the finished tapes and they put them out, but we’re not likely to get that. I don’t think we’re that much into it, actually—I mean, there’s loads of bands in Manchester that have been signed up, who play all the time and are on £20 a week. I don’t think it’s worth it. I think when you do that, the fun goes out of it.”
The biggest success for The Freshies was their brilliant single “I’m in love with the girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore check-out desk” which was also released under licence to MCA records and reached the mid 50s in the music charts in 1981.
The Freshies ploughed on looking for success but at some undisclosed point in the mid 80s, Chris Sievey withdrew from the spotlight…coincidentally, a certain familiar, big-headed nuisance started popping up on the streets of Timperley…